Meridian Star

Life

October 13, 2013

In their own words ...

Breast cancer survivors, family members share stories of courage

MERIDIAN — In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Star has asked our readers to share their stories – be it a personal testimony or someone's observation of a loved one.

    Following are their stories:

Kathy’s hope and faith

By Suzy Byrd Nelson

    In 1996, a 38-year-old wife and mother found a suspicious lump in her breast.  

    She went to a doctor and was dismissed with a “come back in six months and I will check you then” laissez-faire attitude. Her woman’s intuition told this young mom that something wasn’t right.  

    She came to Meridian to see another doctor who immediately biopsied her.  The results came back and yes, she had cancer. That young mom was my sister, Kathy Byrd Nealey.  

    In a matter of days, she had a mastectomy and was told, "You have Stage IV cancer." She was given less than two years to live. However, she never gave up hope and faith because she believed miracles happened every day.

    Kathy went through a year of chemo and radiation treatments. Soon after she finished her last treatment, on Valentine’s Day 1997, her door bell rang. She was told her husband had been in a horrific wreck a few miles away. She was taken to the wreck site, where she was told he didn’t make it.  Now this young wife, mother and cancer survivor had to tell her only child her dad was dead.   

     After the funeral a few days later, Kathy looked at me and said, “I will live to raise my child. She will not become a young orphan. I know what the medical odds say, but I will survive and raise my child." Hope and faith were renewed again for her and our family.

    Yes, Kathy did live to raise her child. She also lived to see her child graduate from college and become a strong independent young lady. She enjoyed many happy times throughout the years with her daughter and our entire family. She was an inspiration to many and gave hope to numerous cancer patients. She was a kind and quiet hero to all cancer survivors.

    However, in October 2007, the malignant cells showed their anger again. They came back with a fury. But her faith and hope were as strong as ever too! She continued to teach school while taking treatments. Her quiet demeanor and appearance on the outside hid the pain she was feeling as she was aggressively trying to defeat the maddening cancer cells growing inside.  

    In July 2008, she realized that the evil cancer cells were going to win the war. But always remember, her hope and faith had won many battles for her before!

    On Aug. 23, 2008, she went to join our Savior and her husband in heaven. Before she died she told me that she was so thankful for the 12 years she had been given and that no matter how bad things seem, always have hope and faith.

    When my daughters and I were in Orlando at the Susan Komen Race for the Cure, among all the beautiful pink ribbons of hope, my precious sister was with me in my heart. I looked at the survivors and knew that they, too, all have a story.

    I looked at the survivors and knew how far cancer treatments have advanced since my sister was diagnosed. I looked at the survivors and prayed that they, too, have the hope and faith that my beloved sister had. In any case, I looked at them and whispered, “Have hope and faith, and never, ever give up!”

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